The Values that Define Success

 If like me and so many others in the Bay Area, you were watching with bated breath to see if our reigning champs, the Warriors, fulfilled their championship aspirations again this year. You know all too well the emotional roller coaster of exhilaration when your sports team is flying high after a game 7 win only to suffer the deflated feeling a few days later when they bring you to your knees after a devastating loss. I experience the same emotions as a parent watching my children play sports. There are highs, lows, and everything in between. The experience has given me a profound appreciation for the athletics program at Brandeis. I love the school spirit and sportsmanship that athletics brings to our students and our school. While we sit on the edge of our seats or hover near the finish line - watching, waiting, cheering on our kids as they power through wins, losses, maybe a championship, and inevitably toward the end of a season, I think about the lessons learned and the profound takeaways. The throughline with a Brandeis lens as I see it: it isn’t racking up wins and losses that gives our students’ character, it's the Brandeis values that guide their actions, thoughts and words; Kindness, Integrity, and Service - on the court and field, in the classroom and out in the world.
During an interview with Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo after a loss that knocked his team out of the playoffs, he was asked if he considered the past season a failure. His response struck a chord and has stayed with me.
“Do you get a promotion every year at your job? No, right? So every year, your work is a failure? No. Every year, you work towards something, which is a goal: it's to get a promotion, to be able to take care of your family, provide a house for them, or take care of your parents. It's not a failure, it's steps to success. There's always steps to it. Michael Jordan played for 15 years and won 6 championships. The other 9 years were a failure? That's what you're telling me. There's no failure in sports. There's good days, bad days; some days you are able to be successful, some days you're not, some days it's your turn, some days it's not your turn. That's what sport's about. You don't always win, some other people are gonna win. And this year, someone else is gonna win. Simple as that.”

I know after discussing this with Coach Corrie, that a similar viewpoint is held by our coaches at Brandeis. They guide the steady progress of our student-athletes year after year. They see the students who were tentative about playing sports, build up enough confidence to signup for a team and then revel in the joy and confidence that engaging in athletics brings to the lives of our students, their teammates, and friends.     

My yoga teacher recently shared some wisdom during our practice. She said, “It’s not the performative that matters - it’s the act of progress.” That same wisdom certainly applies to a Brandeis education. We don’t ask our students to get up and repeat something they’ve memorized or to spout off other people’s opinions. We’re asking them to absorb, question, and invite curiosity about everything that they are learning, be it in the classroom or on the court. The power of a Brandeis education lies in taking risks, inspiring each other, creating, sometimes failing, and throughout it all using curiosity as a guide toward making steady progress in their learning and in being a mensch, a good teammate, and a steady friend. 

I’m so proud of what our athletics program brings to our school and the many ways it empowers our students. Thank you to Coach Corrie, and to all of our coaches. Thank you to the parents who organize, shuttle, and support our students so they can give their best. Thank you to all of our supporters, past and present, who believed in the power of athletics to guide the character development in our students that will last long after their time at Brandeis.

I should mention that our athletics program hasn’t always been the thriving enterprise it is today. It came about with the inspired generosity of a handful of parents who invested deeply as major donors to establish an athletics program in 2011. Despite the many obstacles, their unwavering altruism provided Coach Corrie with the tools and resources to create what it is today - 109 student-athletes competing on 16 teams in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Major gifts to the school aside from The Brandeis Fund, fuel programs that provide enormous value to the transformational power of a Brandeis education. What does your child look forward to every day at Brandeis? What project or activity brings a glimmer to their eye? Meaningful investments in our programs lead to larger impacts for both our current students and for future generations of Brandeis kids.

Every family plays a significant role in sustaining a culture of giving and engagement at our school and collectively your generosity makes an important impact on the lives of our students. Simply put, our health as an institution relies heavily upon the philanthropy of our entire community. As we close another school year, I am heartened, grateful and encouraged by the success of our various campaigns and the willingness of each family at Brandeis to play a part in our school’s success. As Giannis expressed, “there’s good days, bad days” but every day at Brandeis feels like a win, surrounded by our amazing collective of teachers, staff, families and students. Toda Rabah!